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Memorial Day 2001:
Mil-Ind-Corp Complex Fomenting MIA/POW Myths
This weekend I was surrounded by Rolling Thunder, bikers with American flags and POW/MIA flags flapping behind their bikes here for Memorial Day. This cynical manipulation of family emotions and continuation of hatred of the Vietnamese was a project of the Pentagon and Richard Nixon to find a reason to deny war reparations to Vietnam. Pro-war veterans have a permanent presence near the Vietnam Wall here, and continue to hype the lie of the Vietnam war.
H. Bruce Franklin has done an excellent job in his recent books, including Mythmaking in America, to expose the lies and the hidden history of that war. Yes, there were MIA's in that war, but a smaller percentage than in any earlier war. Many of them are accounted for in two ways: the high level of deserters who left ranks and went to other countries, and the GI's who went from Vietnam into the secret wars of Laos, Cambodia and Operation Phoenix, some of whom were given operational cover by the lie that they had died or went missing in the war.
I recall the wife of the captain of the Mayaguez, a ship captured spying on Cambodia, weeping on local Philadelphia TV news when she saw a picture of the crew and recognized the man she had been told was KIA 15 years before. The idea that POW's were held after the war ended in any number has been discounted by the facts and by common sense.
I was at the very first POW/MIA demonstration at the Vietnam Wall years ago, drawn by curiosity about "veterans down at the wall on Christmas eve". What I found were a mixed group, none of whom were actually Vietnam veterans, and one of whom was a Vietnamese anti-communist, dressed in boonie camouflage outfits from the Vietnam era, but all freshly pressed. I asked where they had gotten the cammies, and they told me from a Major at Fort Meade, an Army intelligence base.
This issue continues to inflame veterans and the families of missing and dead GIs against the people of Vietnam and in support of continued wars abroad. But it is an issue created by and for the interests of the Pentagon and the US government to continue to carry out these wars and to never take responsibility for the damage done.
I also heard on C-SPAN an interesting panel discussion engendered by the new book Coming Home to War, by Gerald Nicosia (the untold history of Vietnam Veterans Against the War) that included telling comments by Tony Russo, Dan Ellsberg, and others.
Senator Kerry's revelations, the appearance of this book and Desertion in the Time of Vietnam, a Canadian deserter's poignant tale, may mark a new opening for an honest and full discussion of the Vietnam war, and I for one would more than welcome it. I got to address a high school history class here about the war, which was their unit topic this week. Is anyone interested in organizing forums on this topic?
Families Press Military on Vietnam-Era Mias
The Providence Journal
NEWPORT (May 12) -- They wanted to know the whereabouts of their loved ones. So the regional members of the
National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia met yesterday at Naval Station Newport. And what they got was an assurance: the military is still searching.
Since 1975, the number of U.S. servicemen missing in action in Southeast Asia has dropped from 2,584 to 1,980. Of those, the vast majority, 1,489, are missing in Vietnam. Nine of those missing are reportedly from Rhode Island.
Representatives from the Army, Navy and Air Force were present at the meeting.
"We don't think we're going to stop doing what we're doing until you tell us to stop," said Air Force Maj. Rene Stockwell, the deputy affairs officer for the Joint Task Force/Full Accounting.
This was the 31st meeting of the regional chapter of the National League of Families, and the 11th at Naval Station Newport. About 40 attended.
"You look at our depleted numbers here," said Maureen Dunn, the chapter coordinator. "It's not from a lack of interest. We're dying." In the roughly 30 years since the Vietnam War, the organization's members have encouraged the U.S. military to continue its ongoing investigation and recovery of the remains of servicemen.
Yesterday, the military updated the organization about its efforts.
"Until my last dying breath, I will aggravate the bejesus out of you," Dunn told the meeting's military personnel. "I'm not going away."